Table of Contents

Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership

Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Donna Ladkin and Chellie Spiller

The majority of authentic leadership literature focuses on the individual leader. However, the authors in this volume expertly focus on the premise that leadership is a relational phenomenon and not something that can be distilled down to the actions of one leader, be they authentic or not.

Chapter 10: Essay: followers’ assessments of a leader’s authenticity: what factors affect how others deem a leader to be authentic?

Dail Fields

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


Leadership models have often focused on the leader as a pivotal actor, emphasizing identification of leader attributes and behaviors that influence followers (Kouzes and Posner 1987; Meindl 1993). Groups of these behaviors tend to be labeled as a particular model, such as transformational or authentic leadership. These models suggest that a set of behaviors experienced on average by the followers of a leader will cause these followers to achieve specified objectives or put forth additional efforts for an organization’s goals. The model labeled ‘authentic leader- ship’ suggests that leaders whose actions are perceived as consistent with his or her own beliefs and values are likely to have positive influences on the behaviors and performance of followers (Gardner et al. 2011). In theory, this leadership approach is effective because followers may interpret authenticity as evidence of reliability. In other words, followers may anticipate that more authentic leaders will be less likely to resort to face-saving or other self-preservation tactics if and when things go awry (Fields, 2007; Gardner et al. 2011; House et al. 2004). A leader may be true to him or her ‘self’ and, accordingly, may judge that he or she is being authentic. However, I argue in this chapter that, unless a follower perceives that the ‘trueness of self’ being exhibited by a leader aligns with the follower’s knowledge of authentic leadership traits, the leader does not exist authentically in his or her leadership.

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